Wearable technology, once the thing of sci-fi and anti-utopian futuristic novels, has officially become a way of life. Even for those of us who don’t wear a piece of computer technology, such as the Fitbit, FuelBand, etc., on our persons throughout the day, we’ve approached a time when people spend 22 hours a day either holding or within grasp of their Smartphones. They have basically become an extension of ourselves – an additional appendage, if you will.
This technology, along with forthcoming iterations such as Google Glass and the much rumored “smart watches” in development by companies like Pebble, Apple and Samsung, has been developed with the idea of keeping us more “connected.” But does it really? At a recent concert I went to, I was struck by how many people in the crowd were watching the show through the lens of their phones – attempting to record or share an experience instead of, well, experiencing it. We’ve all been victims of a dinner or lunch date with a friend that just can’t stop texting or surfing – and we’ve each probably been the offending party a time or two ourselves. In situations where we may find ourselves <GASP> alone in a bar or restaurant while we await our friends – instead of, say, striking up a conversation with the single guy next to us, or the bartender, we bury ourselves in the comfort of our phones. Society has shifted us into more cocooned individuals. And I worry that the oncoming technology may even exacerbate this issue.
Google claims that the idea behind Google Glass is to get people out of their phones, make “people” the focus again. I’m worried that it may actually just make it easier to appear engaged while actually tuning reality out. At least now, we are all conscious of the fact that we are either being ignored by our friends engrossed in their phones, or being rude to those around us. Google Glass may just enable us to dive even further into our fascination with virtual reality to the point that we completely lose our hold on physical reality.
I don’t believe that all wearable technology is guilty of this. I wear a Fitbit every day. I don’t think about it much throughout the day, I don’t have to fiddle with it, and unlike my iPhone, it doesn’t constantly scream at me, demanding my attention. It just quietly chugs away, recording my daily activities, reminding me gently to be more active, take a bigger role in my own health. At the end of the day, it’s technology like this that I feel is actually making me feel more connected. It’s helping me to understand myself better, without abetting me in disconnecting from the world around me. And that helps me feel like I’m a better version of myself.
I don’t intend to abandon my iPhone. And I have yet to decide whether I feel that Google Glass will be the next big thing, or that it’s just a lot of overblown hype. However, I do think that we as a society may need to take a step back, put down the tech, and enjoy a concert just for the music, just for the non-recorded memories once in a while.
According to Nielsen’s Year In Sports report, 2012 had a 45% increase in sports programming hours across cable and broadcast over 2011. While the Olympics helped bolster that number, the availability and accessibility of sports programming and content are continuously expanding.
The combination of more volume and accessibility naturally creates fragmentation to customize sports viewing. There is already on-demand access to the most recent scores, commentary, highlights and news through any device anywhere. And with increased accessibility, does this really mean cannibalization will occur, similar to the effects of streaming video on prime time ratings and cable subscriptions?
The answer is no. Sports is different. Here’s why:
ComScore and Google reported that consumers watch on average 17% more TV when using multiple screens to consume sports content. Total time spent also increased as screens were added, with total engaged time doubling from one to four screens. And with more vendors adopting an authentication model, you’ll need to keep your cable subscriptions anyway in order to access the content (legally) on other devices.
So, sports content consumption is becoming predominantly multi-screen, and simultaneous usage across multiple channels is increasing. TV, digital, mobile, and social platforms all go hand in hand with sports content. They create a multiplier effect of total media consumption that’s natural to the evolution of sports viewership patterns. It’s rare that you can organically include yourself in consumers’ normal behavior and engage them on multiple screens without soliciting an action or being obtrusive.
It’s not a question of which screen, but how to use the strengths of each screen holistically. The focus needs to be media aggregation and message amplification across all screens. The brands that will stand apart in this space will succeed at leveraging all those strengths, not cannibalizing one for the other. Fans aren’t doing that. They are on all of them, and you should be too.
During the recent NHL lockout, the common theme amongst pundits was the league had alienated the fans (yet again) to the point that it could trigger an inescapable downward spiral to oblivion. Curling will take over as Canada’s national sport. USA market teams will crash and burn. Contraction! The end of hockey as we know it!
That talk all stopped when the first post-lockout game on NBC delivered the best regular-season rating in a decade. It wasn’t a fluke either. According to Nielsen, ratings are up 76% for 21 US franchises on various regional broadcasts. Fox is killing it more, posting ratings boosts of up to 108%. Nationally, viewership on the NBC Sports Network is up 36% vs. last year. This bonanza comes a year after the shortened NBA lockout season posted similar ratings jumps over previous years.
What all this means is very simple: Sports is everything proof.
Regardless of the issue- player scandals, slow economy, lockouts or pestilence- sports leagues are continuing to thrive. The reach of sports brands into society is so broad and touches so deep personally, it engages people in rare ways. Sports have the power to unite and divide on the scale of politics and religion. It’s not a passing trend or the next new thing. It was, is and will be an important and visible part of life.
That connectivity is where the true power lies in sports marketing. Building that bridge of transitive goodwill from brand to team to consumer via multiple mechanisms creates a long-term equity that is worth the investment. I’ve seen this personally with Buffalo Wild Wings. This past season we ran a sweepstakes for the Big Ten Football Championship (inclusive flight, hotel & tickets). The winner wanted to reach out personally to BWW to thank them for making it possible for them to go to the game. The resulting goodwill from that one interaction has now rooted a positive correlation and the long-term ability to influence behavior.
The key to remember as advertisers, though, is you need to be as invested as the fans. Sports marketing is all about harnessing passion. So, one-offs and jumping on bandwagons will not get you there. There are times when a team performances dip and certain indicators wane. But, brands shouldn’t question their commitments (maybe how much they are paying for a partnership, but that’s another issue). Whenever those questions pop up, my answer is always that regardless of ups and downs, brands should be looking for opportunities to engage fans through sports sponsorship and continue to build that equity. It is what leads you to that commonality with fans and paves the way for brand advocacy. Only then are you really tapping into the full potential of sports.
Remember when you’d sit down with some of your friends to watch Carson Daly count down the top ten music videos in America according to your requests (was it phone calls back then)?
Well, in the Tampa market, 97x, an Alt Rock station launched its own version of TRL, or, calling it a “social music revolution.” This app based radio station model now gives listeners the ability to vote for the songs they want to be played. It’s like TRL for radio. This new station format launched January 18, 2013, and as of February 8 had 21,710 app downloads, so it’s growing quickly. In terms of interaction with the app, so far there have been 2.9MM votes for songs.
In true marketing form, the station puts choices in the hands of the consumers, giving them complete control of the music being played on the station. Will this be the way of the future for radio? Or is it like when you go to a frozen yogurt shop, and when you’re done creating your customized concoction, you wish you had not chosen Gummi bears, chocolate chips AND coconut flakes, because it’s so random; and then you don’t even end up enjoying it. To me, that is how the new format feels. The playlist ranges from Rob Zombie to the gentle stylings of Jack Johnson, and then back to System of a Down. It’s all over the place.
We’ve seen the growth of social TV and really seen that brands capitalize on the multi-screen engagement. I’ll be interested to see if Social Radio can build something similar, but my feeling is no. While this shiny new object is making we media planners think a little differently about how others listen to music, I don’t believe it’ll replace traditional radio. We already have Pandora, GrooveShark and Spotify doing that for us. Many media traditionalists enjoy listening to the radio for the DJs themselves. A station ridding itself of the draw of a local (or national) “celebrity” could lose credibility with its audience, thus losing listeners. Very few JACK-FM (no DJ) stations (as the media pros call it) are top rated stations in a market.
From a business perspective I think it’s very smart: it opens up a revenue stream for stations that wasn’t there before. They don’t sell just spots anymore, they’ve got social elements, as well as mobile and desktop ads to sell. It also extends the radio buy outside of just the on air experience. There is audience engagement and opportunity to capitalize on social elements, both of which are growing and more important to advertisers today. Building social and mobile capabilities for stations is a smart move; I just think it should be done in a way that doesn’t change, overnight, the way you listen to a station.
In the spirit of competition, we started our conversation disagreeing on whether Super Bowl ads should be shown before the big game. But after considering some key takeaways from the past few years, in context with today’s media landscape, we can both agree that not taking the opportunity to build consumer engagement leading up to the game would be a big mistake.
There is no audience as large or as “tuned in” as Super Bowl viewers. Audiences have grown +25% from 2002 to 2011.
In an era of skyrocketing costs and risk-taking, brands are tasked with the dilemma of whether or not pre-seeding a Super Bowl spot is worthwhile in calculating the overall success of the investment.
Super Bowl Surprise:
Back in the day, it was the big reveal. Commercials were first shown during the Super Bowl and the measure of success was TV ratings. Interestingly enough, Monday morning talk was about the commercials; we just didn’t realize this was social. There was no internet, and conversations did not go “viral” in the same way they do today. Those first memorable spots for me are still talked about today: Coke and “Mean” Joe Greene or Pepsi and Cindy Crawford.
Super Bowl Spoiler:
But today, key performance indicators reach far beyond TV ratings and unmeasured “water cooler” talk for brands. Video views, social engagement and many other factors now fuse together to create a “check-list” for Super Bowl success. With the proliferation of technology in the past decade, users are now given tools to seek out content they want to receive on demand, rather than sitting down through game breaks to ensure they won’t miss everyone’s favorite commercial. And let’s face it, are you really going to get up during the game to refill your drink and snack plate?
It used to be that Super Bowl commercials were like the “secret ingredient,” safeguarded until the big game. Now, brands are realizing that showcasing teasers or even entire spots before the game doesn’t detract, but actually provides a forum for engaged consumers. Whether the teasers/spots or conversation occur on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, brands are now afforded an additional layer of consumption to benchmark themselves for success.
And the numbers show a compelling argument that there’s an advantage to gain by pre-launching your Super Bowl campaign. In 2011, Volkswagen broke through with their “The Force” spot, debuting it on YouTube before the game. In 2012, 34 of 54 national advertisers previewed their spots or teasers before the Super Bowl. In that same year, YouTube pre-game videos of advertisers who chose to showcase their content before the game averaged 9.1MM views each, as compared with 1.3MM for those who waited until the Sunday launch. And in 2013, all advertisers were doing pre-game support. In addition, content aggregators YouTube and Adweek have partnered to provide a comprehensive Super Bowl hub for commercials before the game even happens.
At the end of the day, content remains king when word-of-mouth and social sharing are your benchmark for success. However, a spot still needs creative quality and brand relevance to inspire engagement and increase positive ROI.
Not everyone can be a winner under the new conditions. Pre-launching a spot that does not receive any traffic can spell doom for the brand. After pre-launching their spot earlier in the week, Century 21’s “Wedding” commercial had garnered only 35,000 views on their dedicated YouTube channel. In juxtaposition, the Kate Upton Mercedes commercial generated over 6 million views even before the spot was showcased in the game.
Perhaps the most compelling argument in response to this inquiry is the fact that the user still owns the right to choose. Isn’t the breadth of media options all about choice? Whether you are a proponent of the “Super Bowl Surprise” or the “Super Bowl Spoiler,” each can have its way. Users can choose to engage with a brand prior to the Super Bowl, or wait for the “big reveal” on game day.
In the end, we both agreed that Super Bowl experiences would always be different for everyone. Leveraging the hugeness of the game, the conversations and coverage that happen before, during and after the event are beneficial to brands that fully take advantage of the opportunities that exist.
As technological advances continue to outpace marketers’ media understanding, another new wave in the evolution of consumer targeting is emerging: Cross platform video targeting. Nielsen last year announced a major advancement in consumer targeting that will enable more integrated, cross platform targeting solutions. Although Nielsen is the industry leader in TV reporting, it is not the only media company able to use TV viewing habits to target consumers online. Collective Media and AT&T are also able to use viewer data to reach consumers online with video.
Although they’re not the behaviorally targeted TV spots people expect of the future, Nielsen has managed to figure out a way to combine TV viewing habits and online behavior to create custom targeting segments. It takes about three weeks to gather the viewing data to develop custom segments, and digital media companies like Videology, Specific Media, and Microsoft are then able to use these segments to optimize online video campaigns to improve performance.
Media companies like Collective Media and AT&T are also able to collect TV viewing data to target online video viewers. Collective Media has an exclusive relationship with Rentrak, which has set-top boxes in over 13MM households atop 33MM televisions. The vast scale and exclusive nature of Rentrak provides Collective Media with over 250 million cookies to build out pinpointed targets and ensure reaching a marketer’s desired consumer. Likewise, AT&T’s TV Reflection product is able to utilize U-verse boxes to gather consumers’ viewing habits and connect that with those consumers’ online activity. AT&T is then able to organize consumers with similar activity into segments, which they can use look-alike targeting extend reach across the entire Internet. Both Collective Media and AT&T are utilizing set-top box technologies to target consumers with online video for optimal delivery to extend reach of their TV messaging.
Nielsen’s, Collective’s, and AT&T’s advancements in using actual TV viewing data to target online video views is a huge step in the right direction in creating a fully integrated media environment. Over the last few years, advertisers having been trying to figure out how to cohesively plan two very similar, yet very different video vehicles. Now we are able to use both media to improve the effectiveness of other. This will create a true video campaign where sight, sound, and motion can be used across four screens all working cohesively toward a single objective.
According to Experian Research, Pinterest is said to be the third largest social network site behind Facebook and Twitter due to its unique social sharing model that allows users to share what inspires them. For two weeks, Jetsetter, a community of travelers that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge and exclusive deals on the world’s greatest vacations, partnered with Pinterest to create the Jetsetter Curator “Pin it to Win it” Contest, with the overall goal being branding, quality content generation and engagement with members. The Jetsetter Curator contest asked pinners to create “the ultimate destination pinboard.”
Curators were asked to use content from Jetsetter and around the web. Jetsetter members pinned photos in four categories: escape, adventure, style and cosmopolitan. Jetsetter editorial staff, aided by a panel of judges that included Arianna Huffington and Glenda Bailey, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, selected the winning boards in each category. The winner in each category won a three-night stay at a Jetsetter destination pertaining to the category. The escape winner won a trip to Turks and Caicos, while the cosmopolitan winner won a trip to Miami, style to Los Angeles and the adventure winner to Belize. In addition to the winners of each board, the most followed Jetsetter Curator board won its owner $1,000 in Jetsetter credit, a reward that incentivized pinners to share their boards and pins with friends.
Once the contest concluded, more than 1,100 users had participated to win a free trip, with an average of 40 images per board, totaling nearly 50,000 pins. Throughout the contest, referral traffic from Pinterest to Jetsetter.com increased 100% while page views increased 150%, and helped Jetsetter’s Pinterest followers increase from 2,000 to 5,300. Not only were more people visiting Jetsetter.com, but they were also sticking around longer — the bounce rate decreased by 10%-15% during the promotion. In addition, Jetsetter experienced a boost in referral traffic from other social networks, as a result of Pinterest’s integrations with Twitter and Facebook.
It is important for companies and small businesses to note that the approach that Jetsetter took with the “Pin it to Win it” contest was an innovative way to create engagement with their brand with little to no cost. If the execution of the program is done correctly and effectively, the outcome can be very successful and provide strong learning’s for the brand.
The success of the Jetsetter Curator “Pin it to Win it” Contest is directly attributed to:
Given the way Pinterest works, the nearly 50,000 pins that the contest received gave the Jetsetter brand immense reach, especially because amazing travel photos are the kind of thing that dominates Pinterest. Understanding what catches users’ eyes serves as a valuable research tool for Jetsetter. The “Jetsetter Curators” helped to provide the actual Jetsetter curators with a wish list of destinations for the site. Since the Jetsetter Curator contest was a free activation to participants and all of the content was user-generated, the only expense to Jetsetter was the prizes to the winners. However, the learning’s that Jetsetter came away with from the two-week contest far outweigh the cost that they incurred, as they will now be able to better serve their members.
Retailers in particular can use this platform and model to extend their message and create engagement with their targets. Providing your customers what they want is the best way to be successful, and generating first hand learning’s such as these is invaluable.
It’s been a little over two years since Apple launched the iPad in April 2010, yet it seems like just yesterday. That Christmas my brother-in-law was the first in our family to get one. We joked that in a few years his 2 year old would be teaching us all how to use it. Little did we know it would take her less than 6 months. She can navigate the App Store, find her favorite videos on YouTube, play puzzle games and trace her letters to learn the alphabet. Because she can’t read. Yet.
Reading on your tablet is one benefit of being a grown-up. I really enjoy using mine to read magazines. People magazine used to be my favorite. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive in the mailbox. These days I just don’t have time to sit down and read the print version. It clogs up my mail. It’s too big and all those pages create a mess so I’m not going to carry around it in my purse. But I carry my tablet with me everywhere.
So I hooked up my People subscription to my device where it automatically downloads each week and is free if you have a print subscription, and the print edition is promptly placed in the recycle bin. Now I have the magazine with me everywhere and I can pick it up and put it down. At the gym, at the car wash, at the doctors office, at the pool. You get the idea.
People Magazine is one of the best examples of tablet publishing. I’m not a fan of tablet versions that are more like an app and less like their print counterpart. If I wanted the app I would have downloaded it. I enjoy the magazine experience and layout that Time, Inc. has carried over from print to digital. They include all the print content as well as additional digital content and it’s incredibly interactive. With the tap of a finger I can automatically download a book after reading the review. I can watch TV and movie trailers and download music. All from the “magazine”.
Savvy marketers integrate the digital experience with their print ads. There is nothing more annoying than tapping an ad only to go to a dead space. An ad for tomato sauce that takes me to a recipe and a mobile coupon is much more satisfying. Currently scale is a definite barrier to entry for most advertisers. However, eMarketer projects that 20% of Americans will own a tablet (iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook Color) by the end of 2012. By 2015, that number is projected to be between 45-50%. eMarketer also reports that of tablets users over 50% prefer to read tablet magazines over the print version. With the rapid growth up against the time that it takes many brands to make big decisions, it’s best to start talking about it now.
Crowdsourcing is a “phrase-du jour” being thrown around a lot lately and often appears to be the lazy man’s attempt of avoiding actual creative work. However if done properly, it can create some pretty cool results.
Too often, crowdsourcing efforts are too vague and assume that the consumer is going to deliver something the brand is going to love.
This didn’t work too well when NASA crowdsourced the naming of their most recent space station module. “Colbert” won the popular vote after Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert encouraged his audience members to vote for his name. NASA ended up choosing the name, “Tranquility,” but had to deal with the PR fiasco of declining the popular vote.
So how can you keep the end product from being completely off base? It’s not that the consumer doesn’t know best. In fact, the consumer usually knows better than anyone else, but that doesn’t always equate to the most brand-enlightened individuals contributing to the campaign.
Just like a well-written media or creative brief, the consumer needs to be given a little insight into the goals. With a little direction, basic parameters and the proper tools, you can help lead them down the path to a truly creative, yet executable idea.
An example of a well-executed crowdsourcing campaign is when McDonalds in Germany wanted to celebrate and create something special for their 40th birthday. They realized that they had released dozens of “limited time offer” burgers and didn’t just want to vaguely ask, “What kind of special food do you want to see today?” Instead they created a program called Mein Burger and challenged their fans to create a crave-able burger using a virtual kitchen utilizing either existing or accessible ingredients. It helped focus the creativity of the fans to create something feasible and marketable.
And look at what they came up with. A burger topped with ham and Italian cheese on a pretzel bun called…. The Pretzelnator. OK, so the name could use a little more work, but I will allow the concept of flavor awesomeness to over-shadow it; although anything on a pretzel bun is a winner in my book. The campaign also comes with a side of amazing impressions and an incredibly low budget, but those numbers seem meaningless in the presence of a pretzel bun.
Crowdsourcing may seem like an effortless, let-the-audience-do-all-the-work idea, but if the proper amount of research, planning and well-crafted design is invested, then your brand could have their very own Pretzelnator to show off.
Hispanics are mobile savvy consumers who over-index in their use of mobile phones. This is a statement that we, as advertisers, have heard many times over the years. Did you know that US Hispanics are projected to spend more than $17.6 billion on mobile devices in 2012, up from $13.5 billion in 2011? Did you also know that 43% of Hispanics use smart phones, compared to 36% of the non-Hispanic population? Despite the astounding growth year over year and high percentage of use, many brands are still not utilizing the media to reach these consumers.
While brands are aware of the mounting data in support of Spanish- language mobile advertising, few are opting to go the route of the conventional Spanish-language sites and foregoing any other options. When targeting a Hispanic consumer, a brand should go beyond using only a Spanish language ad, and ensure that the experience beyond the ad is engaging. As a Hispanic consumer, I want to know that a brand cares about my opinion and is attempting to reach me at different points throughout my day.
It is also important to note that simply translating a General Market message is not as effective as taking into account the culturally relevant cues to personalize content. Mobile devices allow for extreme personalization and relevant content due to the intimate nature of the device. Forty-two percent of Hispanics are more loyal to companies that show appreciation for their culture by advertising in Spanish, according to a recent study done by Ad Age.
Cover Girl took the correct approach in an effort to reach the Hispanic community with their Mis Quince contest and campaign. The campaign ran across 10 mobile content properties targeting the young, savvy Latina. Mis Quince tied together elements of social networking, mobile, personalization and cultural sensitivity that seemed to be a recipe for success when reaching this active market.
In order to continue growing and evolving, brands must remember not only that mobile is quickly taking over the way we communicate but also that Hispanics are leaders of this growth. Brands should embrace this as an opportunity and tap into this high spending segment.